Forest Lake poet and teacher John Caddy is the McKnight Foundation's 2012 Distinguished Artist. The $50,000 cash award recognizes a Minnesota artist who has made significant contributions to the quality of the state's cultural life.

"John Caddy models a life of devotion to the craft, to humanity, and to our natural world," McKnight President Kate Wolford said. "He is an outstanding artist and an inspiring environmentalist, an exceptional representative of our state's arts community."

Caddy, whose career spans more than 50 years, will be honored at a dinner later this year.

Caddy has been honored with other big awards, including a Bush Foundation Artist Fellowship, a McKnight Artist Fellowship, Minnesota State Arts Board grants and a Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award.

Caddy also taught more than 750 poetry residencies in Minnesota schools. He taught at the University of Minnesota and recently retired from Hamline University in St. Paul.


4-day Strawberry Fest kicks off Thursday

One of the area's first summer festivals serves up four days of fun Thursday through next Sunday with live entertainment, a talent show, hot air balloon rides, helicopter rides, strawberry pie eating contest, public safety demonstrations and a carnival. The Grande Day Parade steps off at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at 80th Street and Jamaica Avenue S. The route follows Jamaica north to Indian Boulevard, then east to Grey Cloud Elementary School. Most events take place at Kingston Park, 75th Street and Indian Boulevard, site of Saturday's fireworks display. For a complete schedule see


Bison returning at Belwin Conservancy

The Belwin Conservancy will hold its fifth annual Bison Release at noon Saturday. Gates to the observation area off Division Street will open at 11 a.m. Parking is available near the Lucy Winton Bell Athletic Fields. Guests can make a short walk through the prairie or take a tractor ride to get to the viewing platform. The nonprofit Belwin Conservancy, which seeks to protect land in the St. Croix Valley, will offer a limited number of guests rides on the Bison Buggy. All activities are free. The herd will be on the Conservancy property until September or October. For information call 651-436-5189.


High school rodeo to crown champions

State champions in 11 events will be crowned during the Minnesota High School Rodeo Finals Friday through next Sunday at the Dead Broke Arena at 170th Street and Hwy. 61. Contestants will compete in calf roping, steer wrestling, goat tying, breakaway roping, cattle cutting, bull riding, bareback bronc, pole bending, saddle bronc, barrel racing and team roping. The action begins at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon next Sunday. Cowboy hats will be given to the first 100 kids at each performance. Free pony rides and covered wagon rides will be offered 30 minutes before each session. Tickets are $10 or $15 for a three-day pass. Students are $5. For information call 612-670-0710.


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